Able UK to recycle French warship

The UK’s nascent ship recycling industry received a boost in February when the French warship Le Clemenceau arrived in Hartlepool.

The 32,780-tonne aircraft carrier will be recycled by Able UK at its facility on Teesside. The firm is already recycling three barges from UK firms and four US naval vessels.

The ships are currently being cleaned of hazardous materials such as asbestos. Dismantling will start in April once Able has finished building a cofferdam and dewatering its dry dock.

Ship recycling has been high on environmentalists’ agenda for the past decade because of concerns about the standards of facilities in developing countries. Most ships are sent to Bangladesh, India and Pakistan for dismantling, but this occurs on beaches without barriers to stop soil or water pollution.

The International Maritime Organization is developing a convention to improve standards, but this will not come into force until 2015 (ENDS Report 406, p 50 ).

Le Clemenceau has been a focal point of environmental concerns. In 2005, French authorities sent it to India for disposal, but it was boarded by Greenpeace activists near Egypt and refused entry to India for containing asbestos.

Able won the contract to recycle the ship last July. The Health and Safety Executive awarded an exemption to the firm to let it import asbestos-containing materials. But local campaign group, Friends of Hartlepool, challenged the decision. The Court of Appeal rejected the group’s call for judicial review last November.

Able is one of two firms in England permitted to dismantle large ships. The other, JT Leavesley, based in Bootle, Liverpool, is currently dismantling HMS Intrepid.

Another firm, A&P Tyne, has applied for a permit but this has yet to be determined.

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